Sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn got to the hoop and missed an easy scoop layup with her team up 54-50.
She clapped her hands rapidly at herself for self-encouragement. She knew her team needed her in the final stretch with a team-high 19 points.
Penn’s next shot attempts were an air ball and one off the back iron and then she picked up an offensive foul. She briefly came out of the game before being inserted with her team down by one point.
She drove right, got to the paint and had the same right-handed scoop layup she missed about two minutes prior, but this time she put it in to put her team up one.
Then with 1:58 left, Penn drilled a dagger 3-pointer to put her team up by four points, finishing with a team high 24 and helping her team push past University of Texas to move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The win marked IU’s third victory in an NCAA Tournament in six appearances. The Hoosiers, who came in as the No. 10 seed, began the game hot against the No. 7-seeded Longhorns.
Like the end of the game, Penn was hitting shots at the start. She began the game 3-of-3 from the field, including two 3-pointers to give IU an early 10-4 lead and herself an early eight points.
“I was hot early, and they just kept giving it to me, and thankfully I was just knocking them down,” Penn said.
She got herself into foul trouble late in the fourth when she picked up four fouls with about six minutes to go, but her offense was too important for IU Coach Teri Moren to replace, so she only had Penn sit for less than a minute in the fourth quarter.
In IU’s last game in the Big Ten Tournament against Iowa, Penn shot just 2-of-11 from the field and scored only five points. In what was a close game down the stretch, Moren said if Penn could have shot a little better, it might have been a different ball game.
The sophomore guard bounced back Friday night with 10-of-21 shooting as she became the aggressor and took good shots.
Last year, Penn was a big part in IU’s WNIT Championship run, averaging 10.8 points per game. This season, she improved to 13.6 points per game but has struggled at times to find a consistency in her offense.
Penn's past struggles don’t matter anymore, as her performance helped advance the Hoosiers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in 33 years. It’s also the sixth time this season Penn has put up 20 or more points.
IU hopes to see a similar performance from her Sunday when it faces the winner of No. 2 Oregon and No. 15 Portland State.
“We didn’t come to Oregon just to beat Texas,” Moren said. “There’s more to do for this group.”
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